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Moro Review

Julie Falconer goes to Moro in Exmouth Market to taste their award-winning Moorish Mediterranean cuisine

Published on August 30th 2011.


Moro Review

EITHER you know Exmouth Market or you don’t. If you do, chances are you’re a foodie. The pedestrianised street lies between King’s Cross, Farringdon and Angel, and is not only known for its overabundance of good restaurants, but also its weekly food market.

One restaurant on Exmouth Market that seems to get more hype than any of the rest is Moro. With ‘Moorish’ cuisine that boasts of  ‘the marriage of saffron and cinnamon’ – or the combination of Spanish and Muslim Mediterranean food – Moro has lured diners with its award-winning cuisine.

The meat that was there tasted good, but it was covered in so much fat that it was hard to pick out what was edible and what wasn’t. The mushrooms complemented the meat well, but they too were difficult to find in the mountains of lard.

But is it worth the hype? Does it deserve those awards? That is what I set out to discover when I went to Moro last week with a friend. We knew they didn’t take reservations at the tapas bar, and the person I had spoken with on the phone warned me that the restaurant could be packed at any hour. As such, we decided to show up at 6pm even though I was told that the place could be full at that time and on that day.

It wasn’t. In fact, I was the only person in the entire restaurant when I arrived. So much for the warnings. I was given a table instead of a seat at the bar since the table wasn’t reserved until 8pm. I ordered a glass of L’Hereu de ‘Nit’, Brut Rose, Raventos i Blanc Sant Sadurni d’Anoia Cava (£8.50). I had never tried rose Cava before, and as soon as I took the first sip, I knew why. It wasn’t very good. At least not this one. It was harsh.

My friend arrived after I did and ordered a Diet Coke (£2.75) instead. I think she got the better aperitif.

On the food front, we started with some of Moro’s signature tapas. The service was prompt, and we received our food very shortly after ordering it. That may have had something to do with the fact that the restaurant was still pretty empty when we put in our orders, but it may not have.

Img_0077White asparagus

We chose three tapas to begin with: white asparagus (£4), chorizo (£4) and patatas bravas (£4). The asparagus was gelatinous, but surprisingly good for being so. It was tender and retained its flavour. The chorizo was excellent, with all the right hints of spice. The only thing I didn’t like about it was that there were only two pieces. I could have easily downed another portion or two. The patatas bravas were good, but not great. The sauce was heavy and overwhelmed the potatoes, and although the overall flavour wasn’t bad, the texture was a bit chunky for my taste.

After the tapas were cleared, we looked at the larger menu to order main courses. The menu had fairly standard options: salmon, chicken, lamb, mackerel and pork. I was already feeling full from the starters, and had a hard time deciding what I wanted for a main. Nothing really jumped out at me.

Img_0082Wood-roasted pork with chanterelle and oyster mushrooms á la plancha

I finally chose the pork, which was wood roasted with chanterelle and oyster mushrooms á la plancha and served with white beans and alioli (£18.50). With it I had a Spanish Vina Collado Garnacha/Tempranillo Campo de Borja 2009 (£4.25/glass, £16.50/bottle). My friend chose the lamb, which was charcoal grilled with caramelised bone marrow, lemon, lentil pilaf and yogurt (£19.50).

The portions were absolutely massive. When the server set down my plate of pork I almost threw up a little bit in my mouth. I had no idea how I was going to eat all of it.

In the end, I didn’t. The meat that was there tasted good, but it was covered in so much fat that it was hard to pick out what was edible and what wasn’t. The mushrooms complemented the meat well, but they too were difficult to find in the mountains of lard. The beans provided a nice relief from the pork, but I barely had room for them in my stomach. It was disappointing.

Img_0081Lamb and lentils

My friend’s lamb, on the other hand, was a winner. The meat was tender and wrapped in beautiful spices, and the marrow and lentils combined to make a medley of flavours that was just right. I was jealous. I wanted to steal her food when she wasn’t looking.

The wine was decent, and an easily drinkable red. Nothing special, but nothing bad either. I would drink it again.

Img_0078Manchego with quince

Our mains were cleared promptly after we finished eating. Then came the time to decide on dessert. We were so full from all of the food we had already eaten that we ended up going back to the tapas menu and ordering manchego with quince (£4.50). I’m glad we did. The cheese had a rich nutty flavor and the quince paste was a nice sweet compliment to the slightly salty cheese. It was a great sized portion, and a nice way to end the meal.

So did Moro live up to the hype in the end? Certain aspects of the meal certainly did, but the menu was a bit of a minefield. If I go back again I will know what (not) to order. Oh, and when I got home I realised that they had over-charged me for all three of the tapas we ordered as starters, which didn’t help their cause.

 

Moro
34 – 36 Exmouth Market
London, EC1R 4QE

 

Rating:        14/20

Breakdown:  7/10 food
                   4/5 service
                   3/5 ambience

 

To read more of Julie’s writing, visit her London travel blog and Europe travel website.

Follow @ALadyInLondon on Twitter.

 

 

Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: fine dining against the best fine dining, cafes against the best cafes. Following on from this the scores represent: 1-5 saw your leg off and eat it, 6-9 get a DVD, 10-11 if you must, 12-13 if you’re passing,14-15 worth a trip,16-17 very good, 17-18 exceptional, 19 pure quality, 20 perfect. More than 20: We get carried away.

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Mark GarnerAugust 30th 2011.

Good review, that pork is a bit hefty on price mind you, given the current price of pork in the market.

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